But, when it comes to engagement, how easy is it to measure the engagement-level of your Facebook fans or LinkedIn Group Members? How easy is it to interact with them and nurture them? How easy is it to get usage and engagement metrics out of Facebook, LinkedIn et al? Is it even possible? Can you act on the metrics?
External social sites are good for brand-building (or reach) but not for interaction or engagement.
A recent Gartner report cited that a mere six percent of marketers claim that marketing on social networking sites is their top priority. What is even more powerful is that 45 percent of those surveyed said corporate websites were key contributors to marketing success. And from the customer perspective, four out of five customers claim to visit a website for product information and only a mere 19 percent would visit a Facebook page, according to Incyte Group.
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So, while you need to be active on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for branding purposes; you also need to be able to build and nurture customer and user communities on your own web site for interaction and engagement.
Visitors to your site are interested in what you’ve got – why drive them to another site where they could get distracted? You need to engage your site visitors with both content & interactions. And to an extent, this is already happening. Forrester Research claims that nearly 70 percent of b2b buyers visit vendor communities for more information.
By shifting the approach to pull customers to your site, instead of pushing them to other over-crowded communities, you’ll be able to use your website for all sorts of new activities that can benefit your organization, such as engaging customers in online chats, which can drive down service and support costs; leveraging your customers’ collective brainpower to improve product development efforts (the power of crowdsourcing is limitless) an so on. You’ll also find new ways to increase brand engagement and build customer loyalty as well as enhance overall customer and partner satisfaction. Examples of these can be leveraging customer feedback for new product development, monitoring the frequency in which a customer contributes to the community, determining partner support and much more.
There are two ways to build communities on your website. One way is to have a new social or community portal that sits alongside your content portal, resulting in your online presence being powered by 2 disparate systems. That is what I call ‘loosely-coupled’. With a ‘loosely-coupled’ online presence – it is more difficult to set-up marketing campaigns; in addition, integration with your other business systems becomes twice as complex. This isn’t effective.
The better way is to make your web site itself social … to manage your online presence with a single system that helps you both manage content and communities; to provide a holistic & immersive experience to your site visitors.
By leveraging a unified corporate site that is social; that both publishes content and interacts with the community, marketers can more easily and accurately measure and analyze the level of engagement, what products the customer is interested in, what questions need answering and have a stronger opportunity to cross-sell by linking conversations with other product pages.
Is your website a one-stop shop for both content & engagement? It should be.